Lime Coconut Chicken

On Sunday, I decided to go back to a family tradition that we have somehow fallen away from over the past few years.  I made a fancy Sunday dinner of beef roast, garlic mashed potatoes and Lion House rolls.  To top off the fabulous food, I decked out the table in china, linens and crystal.

I thought my kids would really appreciate and recognize my effort in going back to our Sunday dinner tradition.  You would think I'd know better by now.

For three hours straight, all they kept asking me was "Who's coming over for dinner?" or "What bad news do you have to tell us?"  They refused to believe me when I explained to them why I was putting forth the extra effort.  My 12-year old then pushed the limit by boldly stating, "But you never cook for us Mom!"

Yes, he is still alive.
I guess since I "never cook", my 12 year old must think last night's chicken dish appeared through the secret food portal I have to the Hogwarts' kitchen.

This chicken has a great rich, flavor from the coconut milk, then that same marinade gets cooked and makes the perfect sauce for the rice.  Please don't skip out on the fresh lime juice and cilantro on top.  It adds freshness to the dish and you will miss the balance of flavors without them!

Lime Coconut Chicken
(serves 4)
recipe adapted from Fine Cooking, Winter 2006
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
1/2 C coconut milk
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 lime
2 Tb oil
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 Tb soy sauce
2 Tb sugar
2 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1 Serrano chili, minced (I left 1/2 of it with the seeds)
1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro
fresh lime wedges

1.  If using breasts, slice the breast into 2 pieces by slicing it down the length of the breast.  If using tenders, do not cut down any smaller.
2.  Combine the remaining ingredients except for the fresh cilantro and lime wedges.  Mix the marinade together with the chicken and allow it to marinade in the fridge for 2 hours.
3.  Heat your grill or grill pan to medium-high.  Once the grill is hot, cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and boil for 3 minutes.
4.  Serve the chicken over rice (I love it with jasmine rice!), pour over some of the cooked marinade and add a generous squeeze of lime and cilantro on top (don't skip out on this because it makes the dish!).

Cheesy Puff Crackers

We've been home from our cruise for 6 days, but it truly feels like an eternity ago.  I had such an amazing time with my husband and our good friends, which makes me so grateful.  I have also been sick since getting home and have completed nothing, which makes me so grouchy.

I'm ready to pack up and leave for another week.
Of course, after being gone for 8 days, my kids were in need of some serious one-on-one time with Mom.  It is so sweet and overwhelming all at once to see how much you are missed when you are gone.  One of the activities we did to catch up on missed time was to make these crackers.

They were a mega-rock star hit with my kids, both making them and eating them.  Very easy to throw into the food processor and the results are perfectly crisp, buttery and cheesy. 
We made all kinds of shapes, but made sure they were about the same size so they would bake for the same amount of time in the oven.  Not sure why, but they loved the stars the best after they were baked.  Maybe because it provided even more of the crispy edges.

Cheesy Puff Crackers
(number of puffs depends on the size of cutter)
recipe from Giada De Laurentis

1 1/4 C flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 stick butter, cold and cubed
1 1/2 C shredded cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, or colby)
ice water
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp favorite dried herb (oregano, basil, or garlic)

1.  Combine the flour, baking powder and butter in a food processor.  Pulse until mixture forms a coarse meal.  Add the cheese and 1 Tb ice water.  Process until the mixture forms a ball, adding an additional 1 tsp ice water only if needed.  Knead the dough lightly and form into a disk.  Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
2.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix in a small bowl the salt and desired herb.  Lightly flour the word surface and roll out the dough about 1/4 " thick, then sprinkle on the salt/herb mixture.  Gently roll the seasoning into the surface of the dough and cut out to desired shape.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown and puffed.  The time will depend on the size of cookie cutter you used.  Cool on a wire rack.

Saucepan M&M Cookies

For those who have been patiently waiting since my last post on Wednesday, here is the promised soft, chewy and completely decadent cookie recipe I promised.

Yep, they are monsterous.  Yep, you can make them smaller if you wish but don't be such a party pooper!
Why are these called saucepan cookies?  Because you make them in a saucepan instead of an electric mixer.  They are made from melted butter instead of room temperature butter.  The result is a perfectly chewy and dense cookie!

Saucepan M&M Cookies
recipe adapted from The Weekend Baker
1 C butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 C light brown sugar
2/3 C sugar
3 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 C semisweet chocolate chips * I used both chips and chunks
1/2 C mini M&M's

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan set over medium heat.  Remove from the heat and add both the sugars.  Stir until smooth and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
2.  Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until blended.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir until blended.  If your dough is still warm, allow it to cool for another 10-15 minutes before adding the chocolate chips and M&M's, or they will melt :)
3.  Use a scant 1/4 C measure or a normal ice cream scoop and drop the scoops of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet, only putting 6 cookies on a sheet.  I like to add a few more M&M's to the tops of the dough balls solely for looks.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are lightly brown.  Do not overcook!!!  Allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to finishing cooling on a rack.

How to Freeze Your Favorite Cookie Dough

I know you can't tell, but right now, I am with my sweetie, on a cruise ship, on my way to the Bahamas.  Wooo Hoooo!!!

My hubby and I are celebrating our 20th anniversary a few weeks early.  What better way to celebrate than away from our six kids, in the Caribbean and with amazing friends who are coming along for the adventure.

(Obviously, I am preparing this post a few days before we leave and my tummy is all full of butterflies just thinking about our week together!)
My parents were planning on coming from Ohio to take care of the kids, but my poor Mom got really sick and they weren't able to come.  So instead, a young couple from church have taken on the enormous challenge of being "Mom and Dad" for 8 days.  I like to joke that caring for our kids for that long will be the perfect birth control :)

In hopes of making this whole experience as stress-free as possible, I have stocked the freezer with dinners and treats for the week.  I pray all will go well for them.  I'm not worried about my kids.  I'm worried about this poor newlywed couple......
One of my favorite items for the freezer is raw cookie dough balls.  I will make a double or triple batch of my favorite recipe and freeze most of it.  It is so easy to throw a dozen frozen dough balls onto a cookie sheet and have hot, fresh cookies 10 minutes later.  Perfect for those crazy weeknights when you just need a special treat and no time to make cookies from scratch!

Interested in the recipe for these soft, chewy and decadent M&M cookies?  Come back on Saturday and you shall be rewarded :)

Freezing Instructions:
Make your favorite cookie dough according the normal recipe.  Instead of baking, portion out the cookie dough onto a large cookie sheet.  You can put them as close together as you want because they won't be spreading!  Place them uncovered in the freezer until they are completely frozen, about 6 hours.  Remove them from the freezer and place them into a freezer bag or reusable container.  If using a plastic bag, remove as much air as possible before closing.  If using a reusable container, cover the top of the dough balls with plastic wrap before putting on the lid.

When it comes time for hot and fresh cookies, preheat your oven to the correct temperature, place the frozen dough balls onto a cookie sheet and bake for about 3 minutes longer than you would the fresh dough.

Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette

When you attend a potluck, is there a certain recipe you have to bring every time or you get in trouble?   For me, it is a salad I make with this dressing.  

About once a month, we have a potluck after our church services and if I don't bring my salad with this dressing, all I hear is complaints.  You know, a gal like me really lives for the chance to try new recipes but it just isn't worth the hassle anymore.

I give up.  I hear by vow to always bring my salad with this dressing.
This dressing is hands-down my most requested recipe, but one I have a hard time giving out because I have never measured how much of each ingredient I use.  I just whisk it all together in a bowl until it tastes right.

So this week, I took the extra time to measure as I whisked it all together.  This dressing has a a lot of punch to it from all the garlic and the high vinegar to oil ratio.  That is how I like my vinaigrette.  That punch is what everyone loves so much about it.  Give it a try as written on a salad before trying to dilute it with more oil.

Just be warned that if you bring this to a potluck, you will be bringing it until the end of time :)

Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette
recipe by Carole Jones

2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced *I use a microplane
1 rounded TB dijon or brown mustard
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 C balsamic vinegar
2/3 C extra virgin olive oil

1.  In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the oil.  While whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil.  Keeps at room temperature in an airtight container for 10-14 days.

Chicken Spanikopita Meatballs with Tzatziki Dipping Sauce

College.  Man, I look back at my years at BYU and can't help but smile.  Those years were life-defining moments wrapped up amongst friends, family and too much fun.  My years as a Cougar were some of my best.

It is completely preposterous that today, I paid the application fee for my oldest to attend my alma mater.  She is graduating early in December, and hopes to attend BYU in January.  

Do you think she will mind if I go with her and live the college life for just a few days?  I don't know which emotion I feel the most for her:  excitement.....pride.....or jealousy :)
I have taught my daughter the key to getting best young men to fall in love with you at college:  learn to cook and bake.  Old fashioned?  Absolutely!  True?  You betcha!  They are all so burnt out on the cafeteria and fast food.  Cook for them (even something just mediocre) and that hot young man will be putty in your hands :)
So, in honor of my (cross your fingers) future BYU Cougar, I share with you the most amazingly quick, flavorful and impressive little meatball.  Outstanding on it's own and completely 5 star with the dipping sauce.

To all the cute BYU boys.....you are welcome.

Chicken Spanikopita Meatballs with Tzatziki Dipping Sauce
(makes 18 meatballs)
recipe adapted from Rachel Ray
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 lb frozen spinach, thawed then squeeze out excess water
3/4 C crumbled feta cheese
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1 Tb McCormick Montreal Grill Seasoning
Olive oil

Tzatziki Sauce:
1 C plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated
1 1/2 Tb fresh dill
1 Tb fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, add all the ingredients for the meatballs, being sure to separate the spinach into small pieces as you add it.  Add a liberal drizzle (2-3 Tb) of olive oil over the top, then mix it all together using your hands.  Form the mixture into 18 - 1 1/2 inch meatballs and place them on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 13-16 minutes until the juices run clear.
2.  While the meatballs are cooking, mix together all the ingredients for the tzatziki sauce and serve on the side with the hot meatballs.

***For a freezer meal, follow the recipe up through forming the meatballs.  Place the cookie sheet in the freezer until the raw meatballs are frozen.  Toss them in a freezer bag and mark with the cooking directions.  Thaw them on a cookie sheet before baking, so you don't end up with a one big meatball in your freezer bag :)
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